IOGear Bluetooth 4.0 USB Adapter

My Mac Pro had an older version of Bluetooth and I wanted to upgrade to the latest Bluetooth 4.0 LE (Low Energy) standard. In searching around I saw many USB adapters but most that were for Windows. I needed to find one that would work for Mac OS and be able to find drivers for it. Turns out this IOGear Bluetooth 4.0 USB adapter was just what I needed. On Mountain Lion this adapter/dongle works fine and the drivers are ready to go but on Lion and earlier you have to do a bit of work. I ended up hacking the kernel extension for Bluetooth devices to get the IOGear driver working. This blog here was very helpful and made the process a snap.

I get great range with this and it works with all of my Bluetooth devices. The Kinivo headphones and the Anker speaker cube work wonderfully with my Mac Pro now. The dongle itself is tiny and it does have a blue light that stays on all the time. I keep it plugged in on the back of the keyboard so the light isn't much of an issue for me.


Anker Soundcore

My previous experience with Anker's MP141 Cube bluetooth speaker was so great that I decided to check out what else they offered. I was looking for a dedicated speaker to use with my Mac Pro and was debating on whether it should be wired or bluetooth. I decided to go Bluetooth. Anker had just released this new Soundcore bluetooth speaker and I was able to buy it for $30 on Amazon. It is a dual 3 Watt (6 watt total) that sounds very good and has great battery life, 24 hours on a single charge and a range of 66 feet. It uses Bluetooth 4.0 and charges by micro-USB port and has an 18-month warranty.

Now I was skeptical of the battery life and range but turns out to be true in my experience. I was at my Mac Pro working and listening to music, got up to take a break and took the speaker with me. Went into the kitchen to fix something to eat and the music continued to play with no loss of signal,
some 30 feet away from the Mac Pro. Took my food and the speaker into the living room, some 50 feet away and still no loss of signal or quality in the music playing. I have been using it 3-4 hours a day and this Anker Soundcore goes 6-7 days before needing to recharge, so that 24 hour claim is realistic.

There are bluetooth speakers that sound better than the Soundcore and cost twice as much but do they last 24 hours and have 66 foot range? The Anker Souncore is a great bargain and Anker is a great company. I must have 5 or 6 of their products now.

Adobe Creative Stylus vs Adonit Jot Touch


I finally had an iPad Air with Bluetooth 4 support and now I wanted to find a pressure sensitive stylus to use. The top choices seemed to be the Adobe Creative Stylus and the Adonit Jot Touch. I have a number of apps that can use a stylus, from Sketchbook Pro to Procreate and even note taking apps like Penultimate. While both promise over 2000 level of pressure sensitivity and features like palm rejection, I found those claims to be iffy and varied wildly from app to app. I suppose they are doing the best they can with the restrictions of a device like the iPad but it is not anywhere close to my experience with my Wacom Intuos tablet and Cintiq. Granted those devices are way more expensive and maybe I am expecting too much from a stylus that costs less than $100. I actually bought both together for less than $120, but still, while they are not close to Wacom they are far better than a dumb stylus.

Both have programmable buttons and both take different routes in terms of the point of the pen. The Adobe Creative Stylus still uses a rubber nib and while they did reduce the size of it, I still find it too big. Adobe decided to go with a
AAAA battery to power the stylus, and while it may last a good amount of time, you still have the additional cost of buying batteries. And they are an odd size at that, some of the local drug stores and such did not have this size, they had AAA but not this smaller size. The case they provide is very nice, you can carry extra nibs, a battery, all in all a classy case. The stylus itself is sturdy, just not as much as the Adonit Jot Touch.

Adonit has a very solid constructed stylus with a screw on cap and it has more weight to it. They include a USB charger and the top of the pen snaps into the cradle magnetically to charge. This was a welcome addition.
Who likes to spend additional money on batteries? Adonit chose to go with a plastic disc on the tip instead of a rubber nib, it does take some time to get used to it. You really have to train yourself to use a stylus with a disc in this manner. While I was turned off at first, it quickly became apparent to me that it was better than the rubber nib. With the Creative Stylus, say I were to draw a circle freehand, that rubber nib still is too big and prevents me from seeing the point of what I am drawing. With the Jot Touch I have no such problem. I can see through to the tip, the disc is transparent. I can draw that same circle and close off that circle easily because I can see where I started without a rubber nib in the way.

The Jot Touch has become my go-to stylus because of it having no rubber nib, and for the easy recharging.


SteelSeries Nimbus


I love the 4th generation Apple TV but using the Siri remote to play games with is not very enjoyable. Besides if you are playing a multiple player game it is good to have other controllers anyway, so I looked at what SteelSeries had to offer. This Nimbus game controller was hyped for the Apple TV and it seemed to be priced right and so I bought one. I was not disappointed. It is a great controller, the battery life is very good and it recharges by the use of the same Lightning cable that you use for your iPhone or iPad. They claim over 40+ hours on a single charge and that seems to be accurate. It is wireless and uses Bluetooth. They have an iOS app for the Nimbus so that you can install the latest updates. It is very solid, has good weight to it, nice construction and is very similar to what you would find in an Xbox or Playstation controller.

Kinivo BTH410 Stereo Headset


I wanted some decent quality bluetooth headphones but didn't want to spend much money. In February,
Amazon was offering these Kinivo BTH410s for $35.99 and they usually go for $60 elsewhere. It wasn't important what they looked like as they would be used for home. I was more concerned with the quality of sound, range and battery life. These Kinivo bluetooth headphones are Bluetooth 3.0 EDR and supports the audio codec aptX. This makes a huge difference in the sound of the streamed music. Range in my experience is about 60 feet and I have been getting more than the 8 hours listed battery time. Takes about 2 hours to recharge them and they give you the standard microUSB cable to facilitate that. Never got the chance to use them for hands-free calling yet so I can't write about the quality of the microphone.

Has a lot going for it but some point out the cheap plastic and build quality
but I say find me something better for $36! Many of the complaints I read about are probably because people are folding them up and tossing them in a purse or backpack. I think that, yes, if you use them on the go then they will probably get beat up quickly. With me however, these are for home use so I don't ever have the need to fold them up. Loved the fact that once I paired it with my iPhone, iPad, Mac Pro, Apple TV, Roku that it remembered those connections later on. These were great when I had heavy construction going on outside, up and down the street. I was able to watch something on Netflix with these paired to the Roku, for example, and was able to drown out the construction noise. Could also come in handy if you wanted to watch TV late into the night but not wake other people in the house.

I almost never got these headphones. Amazon delivered it by the postal service but my mailman delivered it to the wrong address. Two weeks went by and I contacted Amazon and they refunded my money. Then a few days later
the headphones are on my doorstep! I called Amazon and arranged for payment again. What good fortune though, I almost missed out on these great headphones at such a low price!

Anker Cube MP141

I keep striking out with Bluetooth products. Whether it was speakers or headphones, I just have not had a good experience. Now we have products and devices sporting Bluetooth 4.0 and I decided to try again. I had a couple people recommend the Anker Portable Mini Bluetooth Speaker [Drum]. When I saw they had a newer product, the Anker MP141 Portable Bluetooth Speaker [Cube], I chose to buy it instead.

The Cube has a 4-Watt Driver, a microphone to use it as a speakerphone and a 3.5 mm audio port to connect it to other devices. The wireless range is 30 feet
and it lasts 20 hours on a single charge. The battery life is impressive and the sound quality is very nice. Not enough people talk of packaging and extras that you get, but Anker knows how to do it right. They give you an audio cable, a micro USB cable to recharge it and printed manuals, but I loved the travel pouch best of all!

I highly recommend this speaker and believe it is a great bargain for the quality of the sound and the fit and finish of the components. It does not look, feel or sound cheap in any way. It was only $35 when I bought it on